SEED Madagascar's urban sanitation and hygiene project; working with local residents, organisations, schools and government to promote latrine use, educate on better hygiene practices and reduce open defecation across Fort Dauphin.
For most of us reading this, going to the toilet is a part of lives that we don’t spare a second thought about; we flush and walk away. However, for over 2.5 billion people around the world unable to access improved sanitation, the defecation habits of ourselves, our families and wider communities impact on every facet of our lives. Very few places around the world suffer from the poor sanitation conditions that are symptomatic of Madagascar, where only 14% of people have access to a hygienic latrine. Without access to toilets, people practice open defecation; while dignity is sacrificed, exposure to a broad range of health issues is severely increased. Increased vulnerability to diarrhoea in turn links to malnutrition, developmental stunting, increased mortality, and loss of education and income opportunities; ultimately, reinforcing the cycle of poverty.
Only 14% of people in Madagascar have access to improved sanitation facilitiesUNICEF, 2014
Open defecation means that human waste is left uncontained; free to contaminate food and water sources, and majorly threatening public health. In Madagascar, efforts are underway to eliminate open defecation but a lack of material resources and poor infrastructure combined with a complex set of local taboos, or fady, surrounding the defecation habits makes this no simple task.
Project Malio aims to reduce the practice of open defecation and increase the uptake of better hygiene behaviours – such as hand washing – through education, community engagement and improved infrastructure. We're working within the whole town, encouraging people to talk more openly about the sanitation issues facing them and facilitating communities to build feasible action plans; our Malagasy team ensure we seek local solutions to local problems. To do this, we're running 'triggering' events using innovative, participatory methods to engage residents in evaluating how open defecation is affecting their own lives and the people around them. We're supporting people to build and maintain household latrines, with subsidies provided for the poorest and most vulnerable in society, so that nobody misses out. To support this behaviour change, informal education sessions have been conducted in each suburb using skilled staff to educate and share ideas of latrine building, maintenance and hygiene. We're working in 17 public schools running hygiene education sessions and assisting with the improvement of their sanitation infrastructure; ensuring that students have safe and hygienic latrines and that good habits are formed both at home and in school.
For residents with little space to build latrines, we are supporting the management of a public latrine in the town, and building the capacity of a local association to run it on a day-to-day basis to ensure its sustainability long after the Malio project closes. We have also partnered with five local associations within Fort Dauphin, providing them with regular professional development workshops and enabling them to support our mass mobilisation strategy; running a series of mass mobilisations, beach clean-ups, competitions and parades to promote positive hygiene and sanitation messages within their own community. Furthermore, with radio being the most popular form of communication here, we've designed radio broadcasts such as community interviews and an educational drama series set right here in Fort Dauphin. The drama's context ensures its accessibility and popularity in the community, creating even more discussion on sanitation and hygiene issues and making sure that as many people as possible hear potentially life-changing messages.
Big Lottery and Guernsey Overseas Aid and Development Commission